These jumbo aircrafts are mostly used for both transporting heavy cargo loads and passengers. Most of the planes were originally designed for military purposes, and had significant projects or programs for the duration of quite a few years before being launched for maiden flight, and then commercial service (usually in the following year). There were large orders and purchases made from various airlines for these popular planes. The top 3 international airlines within the same region are Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways who were large buyers. Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa Airlines are also common airlines that run these gigantic planes along different routes.
Boeing and Airbus are the top competitors worldwide for building enormous aircrafts that are cost and fuel efficient, carry heavier payloads, and travel longer distances at high speeds while expanding on the maximum passenger seat capacity. Each plane has its own name and version number, unique features and history of how and where it was created, for what original purpose or mission, set of specs, etc. Some details of each plane vary by wingspan measurement, length and width, maximum cruising speed, number of engines, price per unit cost, etc. Boeing is known to have been recognized as the world’s number 1 largest manufacturer for at least three consecutive years starting in 2011. The company sold billions in commercial net orders.
Frequent flyers are probably more familiar with the names of airlines when booking flights than the exact version or model of the plane they will be flying on. Some passengers flying internationally have limited choices for a one-stop flight. Hopefully by 2020 – 2030, there will be a wider range of options to select from within international airlines for travel.
To find out the ranking of the top 15 largest planes in the world and some interesting factoids on comparing the different versions of large aircrafts, continue reading…
15. Airbus A380
This airplane is comprised of a double-deck and is very wide. The main deck is a little longer and wider than the upper deck. It has an extremely high amount of passenger seating accommodation – 853 seating capacity. The A380 was launched in December 2000 and can cruise at a high speed of 587 mph. In addition, it has a tail that is as high as an eight-story building!
Despite a good number of critics of the A380 in the past years, several airlines from different countries ordered this plane – the Emirates had ordered a high total of 190 by 2014. The President of the Emirates put the idea of a luxurious party-like upper deck with a bar and even some showers for first-class passengers into action. The unique design of the upper deck was to distinguish this airline and plane from others. The President also wanted to make a plane that catered mostly to passengers that would bring in big spending habits while enjoying the atmosphere upstairs.
The most popular airlines that ordered the A380 and followed through with their orders are located in Asia Pacific, with the most number of planes ordered from Singapore Airlines, Qantas Airways, and Korean Air. The other airlines included were from Europe and the Middle East.
The A380 is known for having a large passenger seat capacity, long flights, and friendly flight attendants which make a crucial impact on many passengers when deciding which airlines to choose and continue using for booking their flights.
14. McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender
The extender was built for the United States Airforce. It is a unique mixture of cargo and passenger aircraft. The passenger seating capacity is up to 75 passengers at a time, and the maximum cruising speed goes up to 565 mph. The KC-10 Extender came into service in 1981 and is supposed to be in service until at least 2040!! This is a slightly modified version of the DC-10-30 plane, which was chosen from a total of 4 different aircrafts in 1976 by Donald Rumsfeld after evaluations for a military aircraft program. The refuelling capabilities of the KC-10 Extender for transporting cargo and ferry flights are very advanced. There are more than 59 KC-10 Extender planes that were used for service.
13. Boeing 767
Some stand-out features of the Boeing 767 are the glass cockpit and twin jets. It was first launched in July 1978 with United Airlines, followed by American Airlines and then Delta Airlines. The 767 is known as 1 of the 4 wide-body airplanes (in the same class/family as the famous 787 Dreamliner) that sold in large numbers in 2014 – a total of 723 deliveries and thousands of orders in 2014. It is also currently a popular freighter for FedEx, for which Boeing promised a 25 percent higher production for number of new planes starting in the 4th quarter of 2017.
The maximum passenger seat capacity holds 269 in the two-class configuration, and the maximum cruising speed is 540 mph. The advantage of this version is that it burns less fuel and less oxides for all types of emissions.
12. Airbus A330-300
The maximum seating capacity is 335 passenger seats in 2 class configuration for the A330-300 and the cruising speed is approximately 531 mph. In 2012 this model was in high demand by the Garuda Airlines, who ordered 11 of these for $2.54 billion. The government of Indonesia owns the majority of Garuda’s shares. Garuda has various international destinations including Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific.
This version was also popular due to low seat mile cost for passengers, which helped attract a high number of customers, and is known to be a quieter jetliner compared to others. Also, the A330-300 was the first aircraft to receive both European Joint Airworthiness Authorities (JAA) and US FAA certification, which took place in 1993. Less than two months after, this plane entered into service.
11. Boeing 777-300ER
The fuel cost per nautical mile of the Boeing 777-300ER (Extended Range) is a lot more efficient than the 777-300 version, and the maximum cruising speed is 564 mph. The passenger seat capacity goes up to 365. This aircraft is worth about $320.2 million and has a total of 725 orders and 485 deliveries since the start of the plane. The Emirates have more than 100 of the 777-300ER, and more on order, as this is their main aircraft. The majority of the many airline customers of this model are from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East areas. The first United States airline to have this plane delivered was American Airlines, four years ago. The 777-300ER was built to reduce carbon dioxide per seat and save on passenger seat cost, in addition to being reliable and providing comfort to passengers.
10. Airbus A340-500
In 3-class configuration for seating, the maximum number of seats are 313, and in 2-class configuration the max is 359 seats. The maximum cruising speed for the Airbus A340-500 is about 564 mph. This plane has actually been in commercial services for over 20 years, since 1993. The 340-500 currently still runs today, but the production for this specific version has been stopped. This particular Airbus is popular for being able to fly at much higher altitudes than many others, as well as travel through difficult areas.
9. Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900
Qatar Airways is one of the three largest international airlines in its region. It is the largest customer of the A350 series of planes. The typical seating capacity of passengers is 325 seats and the maximum seating reaches a total of up to 440 seats. The maximum cruising speed of this plane is around 560 mph. Qatar Air is especially recognized for having the very best business class and best business class lounge. The A350 has a higher voltage, is more fuel-efficient with Trent XWB turbofans, and a wing with improved lift-to-drag characteristics.
8. Boeing 777-300
This is the largest twinjet in the world, and holds up to 550 passenger seat capacity in a single class configuration. The maximum cruising speed is 590 mph. This Boeing 777-300 version was launched into commercial service in the year 1998, and is also called the “Triple Seven.” The prior version of the 777-300 is the 777-200. The 777-300 version was designed to be longer than the 777-200, and have extra fuel tanks, among other improved exterior features. The Boeing 777-300 flies on different routes that include destinations to: Chicago, Dallas, New York, Seattle, as well as international routes to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.
7. Antonov An-124
Designed by Antonov from Ukraine, the second prototype of the 124 versions is the Ruslan, pictured above. An interesting fact of the An-124 is that it was manufactured in a plant in Russia and one in Ukraine, which helped to create 100 more factories. The building of this plane began in 1979.
It began its first commercial operations in January 1986. One of the achievements of the An-124 is the record made for being able to transport the heaviest payload of 132.4 tonnes in the air in 1993. It has been used to carry yachts, locomotives, and other heavy cargo. The upper deck area can seat 88 passengers.
Believe it or not, an An-124 plane was used in a scene for a getaway plane in the Fast & Furious 6 movie.
6. Airbus A340-600
Manufactured in France, the maximum cruising speed of the Airbus A340-600 plane is 580 mph. This plane seats 379 passengers in the 3 class configuration and 419 in the 2 class configuration. There are an extensive list of airlines that operate or have been operating the A340-600 version Airbus passenger plane that includes Etihad Airways, Germanwings, Lufthansa and South African Airways (SAA). SAA provides the only non-stop flight from the nation’s capital area to Ghana, and also the only daily non-stop flight from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa.
This plane is worth $275.4 million and was known for being the largest aircraft in the world before the Boeing 747-8i came out. It is the largest aircraft out of its class of the Airbus 34os. In the 2000s the top competitor company Boeing launched the 777 family of planes. Due to increasing oil prices at the time, the twin engine aircraft was preferred versus a four engine because it saved on cost and was more efficient. With the decline in sales of the 34os, Airbus shut down the program with the A340 – 600s and 500s in November 2011.
5. Qantas Air, Boeing 747-400
The 747s were famous for being a game changer in the 1970s in the airline industry, and of this category the 400s were the best-selling version, selling close to 700 passenger planes. Northwest Airlines serviced this version for 27 years and then merged with Delta in 2008. Earlier this year in May, Delta moved their 400,000 pound 747-400 from outside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the Delta Flight Museum a couple streets away. This operation took about three hours of towing, temporary removal of street lights, and steel plates on curbs on the pavement, as well as local police to block traffic.
The 747-400 has a maximum seating capacity of 416 seats and up to 524 in the two-class configuration. The highest cruising speed of this aircraft is 567 mph. It is said to be the world’s favorite out of the Boeing 747 series. The 747-300 began service in 1989. Since then different, newer versions of the 747-400 with variance from the original have been created, such as the 747-400ER, 747-400F, and the 747-400M, etc.
This 747-400 was the first airliner to use winglets.
4. Boeing 747-8i
This plane was unveiled in February 2011 with surprising new colors of red, orange and white, instead of the usual blue and white on a Boeing plane. According to the Vice President of the company, Pat Shanahan, the new colors signify prosperity, good fortune and success.
The length of this plane is more than 77m long, and is also very wide. This intercontinental plane has one designed for freight and another plane for carrying passengers. The 747-8 is the biggest passenger aircraft in the 747 series. It can hold an impressive count of 467 passengers at the maximum passenger seat capacity level in a three class configuration. The highest cruising speed is at 570 mph.
The Lufthansa was launched in June 2012, and has a value of $351.4 million. In April 2013, Lufthansa Airlines added this 747-8 Intercontinental passenger version to the Hong Kong – Frankfurt route. The other major airline buying the 747-8i was Korean Air.
The enhancements focus on more spacious storage areas and business class seating sections as well as higher fuel efficiency and a high level of cleanliness than the previous similar version in the series. Due to the similarity of the 747-8i to the 747-400 version, Boeing had said that it would only take three days of training for the 400 pilots to meet the requirements for flying the 747-8 Intercontinental.
3. Airbus A380-800 (Emirates Superjumbo Jet)
The Emirates airline first launched the Superjumbo Jet last year in late 2015. This plane was modified to carry over 600 passengers and was designed for seats to hold the widest entertainment screens in the air. In fact, it is the world’s biggest passenger plane. It has a cruising speed of 490 knots, and is worth about $432 million in USD.
Another fun fact: The Airbus A380-800 version is known for having more spacious floor space than many other planes.
2. Antonov An-225 Mriya
The Mriya was designed and made by the Soviet Union’s Antonov Design Bureau made in Ukraine in the 1980s for the purpose of transporting the Russian Buran space shuttle. This plane is extremely long and heavy, and has the ability to takeoff and carry 640 tons. The Mriya also has the largest wingspan for an aircraft. One fact that makes it stand out is that it has six turbofan engines, which is at least a couple more than most do. The maximum speed this plane performs at is 528 mph.
The Mriya’s features are very similar to those of the Antonov An-124 Ruslan aircraft. However, the Mriya is longer than the Ruslan, and also has a 32-wheel landing gear system. Due to the similarities between the two aircrafts, the engines of the Mriya were used for Ruslans in 1994 when the Mriya was cancelled and stored due to cancelation of the space program, until it was allowed to return to service in 2001.
1. Airlander 10
The world’s largest carrier, the Airlander 10 was originally built for the military and to be used as a surveillance aircraft and to deliver aid, but the project was put on hold for a while. It was manufactured by Hybrid Air Vehicles and is extremely long, at 302 feet, longer than most other planes. The media called the curvy and round shape of the aircraft the “flying bum” or the “flying rump.”
Later it started being used for transporting cargo and passengers. It was built to save on cost and also carry larger loads without the need of using a runway. The most unique thing about the Airlander 10, also called Martha Gwyn, is the multi-use of it: it is part-plane, part-airship, and part-helicopter. It can withstand extreme weather and even several bullet holes.